Porterbrook Leasing Company is a railway rolling stock lessor, providing new and used passenger carriages and freight cars since 1994. With Porterbrook’s clients primarily centered around the domestic rail market, its product offerings must always be of the highest quality. To ensure its assets are being maintained correctly and kept in good condition, vehicle inspections are a vital, and continuing requirement.
With much of the rolling stock being in the public transportation domain, it’s imperative carriages and engines are routinely inspected and maintained to the highest standard. Prior to FileMaker’s implementation, Porterbrook was relying on fractured computer systems and lengthy paper processes - and it was taking extensive amounts of time to conduct the necessary inspections.
Our aim was to develop a scalable and integrated custom app on iPad for Porterbrook's inspection engineers. The easy extrapolation of information back into the company's existing Oracle system was also vital - so we opted to build the solution on the FileMaker Platform. The end result is a cost effective solution that fulfills Porterbrook's every requirement in regard to vehicular inspection James Ducker, Managing Director at Decent Group (FBA Platinum Partner)
As Porterbrook’s vehicle fleet is substantial and spread widely across the U.K., it became increasingly clear that inspection staff could not afford to waste valuable time using labour-intensive mediums to collate necessary data. Inspections of the rolling stock have to be conducted in the field, and by relying on numerous paper forms and clunky digital cameras, the information was widespread and difficult to collate. Once a vehicle inspection was completed, the relevant information would have to be taken back to headquarters and manually input into the Oracle system - a lengthy and time consuming administrative process.
Information was at risk of being lost or damaged in the interim between inspection and data input. By mislaying just one particular form, it could lead to an inspector having to revisit the site, not to mention the chance of human error as team members manually uploaded the information onto the Oracle system. Due to its stock being constantly in demand, even slight delays were placing huge pressure on the company’s team and infrastructure.
As a result, Porterbook attempted to implement a tablet-based inspection system to aid its team, but due to problems integrating with its existing back-office database, it turned out to be too much of a strain on the company’s resources. Ultimately, Porterbrook was forced to return to paper based processes. Third-party integration therefore turned out to be a key requirement for any future solution.
The goal was to develop a reliable and stable mobile inspection system, one that provided fast synchronisation and integration into Porterbrook’s existing databases. The aim being to remove the organisation’s previous reliance on paper driven processes and unintuitive programs, and instead provide its team with a simple custom app that is both easy and a pleasure to use.
FileMaker platinum developer, Decent Group, realised that the best option was a FileMaker-based custom app, so set about enabling inspectors to record vehicle details, note any defects and digitally relay this information back to headquarters from out in the field. Once back at base, this data is automatically fed directly into Porterbrook’s Oracle-based asset management solution (AMS), so that all the information is instantaneously available to any department or employee that should need it.
The requirement of digital imagery in Porterbrook’s inspection process is also catered for, with the FileMaker custom app making use of the internal iPad camera - allowing inspectors to attach pictorial evidence along with their written reports.
Due to the high volume of stock, the implementation of a FileMaker custom app has proven invaluable for Porterbrook. With its new solution, the organisation now has a far easier task of recording inspection information. Staff - both new members and longstanding employees - have also been easily trained on the new solution thanks to the intuitive and comprehensible application design by Decent Group. Inspections can be carried out more efficiently, ensuring that the need for urgent maintenance or repair can be easily seen and dealt with.
The easy integration of a FileMaker custom app has not only solved some of Porterbrook's current challenges, but it has also streamlined many of the company's processes. Since the inspection system was rolled out, the speed of vehicle inspections have increased, improving the employee's working day as well as keeping the rolling stock in impeccable condition. What's more, Porterbrook has reaped the benefits of this hassle-free application, without completely overhauling its current systems. A win-win implementation.